Access and digestibility if the purpose of medicinal

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Access and Digestibility If the purpose of medicinal history is to transform the way we see ourselves historically, to change our sense of what is possible, then making history available to those who need it most is not a separate process from the researching and interpreting. The task of the curandera historian includes delivery. To do exciting, empowering research and leave it in academic journals and university libraries is like manu- facturing unaffordable medicines for deadly diseases. We need to take responsibility for sharing our work in ways that people can assimilate, not in the private languages and forms of scholars. This is the difference between curanderas and pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceuti- cals are going into indigenous and other people of color communities worldwide, and stealing and patenting tradi- tional science, technology and even the plants themselves and producing medicines that are completely out of reach of the people who invented them. We need to be careful, in doing historical research about oppressed communi- ties, to see that the active ingredients get back to the peo- ple whose ancestors generated our work. A good medicine also includes a delivery system, something that transports it to the parts of your body that need it. Those who are hungriest for what we dig up don’t read scholarly journals and shouldn’t have to. As historians we need to either be artists and community educators, or we need to find people who are and figure out how to collaborate with them. We can work with community groups to create original public history pro- jects that really involve people. We can see to it that our work gets into at least the local popular culture through theater, music, historical novels, posters, films, children’s books, or any of a hundred other accessible art forms. We can work with elementary and highschool teachers to cre- ate curricula. Medicinal history is a form of healing and it’s purposes are conscious and overt. Show Yourself in Your Work One of the pretenses of history is that being rigorous about research is the same as being objective. Since his- tory is a collection of stories about people in conflict, and all our families were involved, it seem s a ridiculous claim. Objectivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway. Being objective is often understood to mean not taking sides; but failing to take sides when someone is being hurt is immoral. In writing about the past we are choos- ing to bear witness to the impact of that past on the peo- ple around us. We don’t stand apart from history. We are in the midst of it right this minute and stances we take matter. Acommitted moral stance does not mean that we cannot be rigorous. While the agenda of the activist his- torian is to rescue a sense of worth for the oppressed, our ability to see worth in the contradictory and ambiguous means we welcome the full picture. We don’t, in the nar- row sense, have an ax to grind.

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